Tips for protecting your kids from cyberbullying

(Photo: BigStock ID:114610115)

(WTNH)– Cyberbullying is becoming a huge issue in schools across the country. Sometimes with deadly consequences.

It’s not only kids who experience some nerves as they head back to school. Parents experience it too. When it comes to their children’s health, they worry about cyberbullying. That’s according to a new study that listed bullying and cyberbullying on the list for top health concerns.

Scott Driscoll with Internet Safety Concepts empowers kids to make good choices when it comes to social media.

“These kids there’s no escape our kids are on their devices all the time and if they are being mistreated it can happen all the time,” said Driscoll.

This type of harassment has been linked to impacting children’s’ mental health, depression and suicide.

“Getting involved and communicating with our kids is so important because if we have that open communication, if something goes wrong our kids can say look at this,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll says be aware of what your kids are doing and what apps they’re on. Driscoll says it’s okay to look at your child’s phone.

“If you are paying for the service and you provided the phone then you have the right to look through it. I don’t expect anyone to read every message but be aware of what your kids are doing and what apps they are on and who they are communicating with,” said Driscoll.

Group messages can also be damaging. If you “like” a negative comment. Driscoll says you’re involved in the bullying.

“If you are in a group message or even on social media and you see three or four people picking on someone you like that comment, you are involved,” said Driscoll.

A new anonymous app that is popular with kids can also be used for cyberbullying.

“It an anonymous app called Saharha and what happens a lot of kids through their Snapchat are saying this is my Saharha account and what happens then is you can leave anonymous comments,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll says the problem with anonymous apps is you can say bad things and get away with it.

“The ones that are still popular Instagram, Snapchat are the two leading the way with our students and there’s a lot of positives to them when used appropriately. It’s just sometimes we don’t see that appropriate response.”

Cyberbullies can communicate their hurtful messages to a wide audience.

“Somebody will say one thing in a text message and some will screen shot it and they will share it with everybody. What starts off with maybe even a harmless conversation blows up and it gets out of control,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll says before you send a message, read it first. The impact of cyberbullying can do lasting harm. And cyber bullies may not realize the consequences for themselves.

“You are responsible for every word you say and although you might think it’s funny at one moment, especially with the cyber aspect of it. It could have short term affect on that person and long term effects on both your future.”

Driscoll says almost every app has privacy settings, and you should only set it to the people you know. Complete withdrawal from the smart phone could also be a sign that your child is being bullied.

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